Review: TO HAVE AND TO HOLD, by Serena Bell

A promise forgotten is a promise broken. — Unknown

Imagine that you find the man of your dreams, and — wonder of wonders — he loves you as madly and deeply as you love him.ToHaveAndToHold Cvr

Imagine he proposes marriage just before leaving on military deployment, and he insists that you move into his house to care for both little girls while he is away. You’ll keep your engagement a secret for now, and you’ll be married as soon as he gets back.

.            Months pass. His letters are fervent, and you respond in kind. You can’t wait to start a life together. Then the letters stop. He has been wounded. You can only wait.

When you and the family finally meet him at the airport for the big (and, for you, romantic) homecoming, he greets everyone but you with big hugs. He looks at you as if wondering why you are there. You learn within minutes, before you’ve even arrived at his house (where you are living!), that he has lost all memory of the year before his deployment. He doesn’t know that the two of you ever even dated.

What do you do now?

That is the spellbinding situation in Serena Bell’s marvelous love story, To Have and To Hold. The reader will not want to put it down until Trina, the forgotten un-bride, and Hunter, the damaged non-groom, have resolved their issues. That will be a rocky road.

Witness the night Trina entered Hunter’s room to try and wake him from a violent, screaming nightmare and, instead of awakening, he kissed her deeply and passionately.

Then he broke it off

                        “Shit. Trina. I was–” He sat up abruptly. Reached for the lamp switch.

                        She scrambled out of his bed and stood, blinking in the light.

                        “You were in my bed.”

                        “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. … You were asleep. Having a nightmare. And I–I wanted to help, and I didn’t think. God, you must think I’m–“

                        “No. No.”

                        Her face was hot with frustrated desire and fresh humiliation. She covered it with her cool hands. …

                        “Trina, this is a _____-up situation. There’s no road map. We’re going to make mistakes.”

                        “I–I can’t believe I did that.”

                        “Trina, stop beating yourself up. I did it too.”

                        “You were asleep.”

                        His gaze tugged away from her and sought refuge in a corner. “Not the whole time.”

 

There is some salty language (he is a soldier, after all), and some slightly steamy (but nicely handled) bed play, but the story is also sweet and touching. The children and the soldier’s mother are portrayed three-dimensionally and believably, and the star-crossed lovers are easy for readers to like and care about.

Selena Bell has crafted a winsome, romantic novel that will appeal to a wide audience. Readers who take this one down from the shelf are in for a treat.

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